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UNLV vs. Fresno State Preview: Rebels Start Conference At Home

The Runnin' Rebs will begin their conference play at the Thomas and Mack Wednesday. Could it be the beginning to their best conference record since the Dave Rice era began?

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Rebel fans are bracing themselves for what, they hope, will be perhaps the best finish in-conference play since the beginning of the Dave Rice era.  Despite decent out-of-conference records in the past, the Rice Rebels have failed to play sufficiently enough during their Mountain West schedule in order to secure themselves a spot in the NCAA Tourney come March.  Could this be the year they turn it around?

It all starts Wednesday night against a feisty Fresno State team with an identical record to the Rebels.  This is the same team that just a couple weeks ago gave Arizona a run for their money and lost that game by only 7 points.  Whereas, when UNLV played Arizona, they seemed to struggle to keep pace with the Wildcats most of the game.

The Bulldogs do not have any impressive wins.  On the other hand, UNLV can boast non-conference victories against the Oregon Ducks and Indiana Hoosiers.  The Rebels are coming off of a huge 103-68 swatting of South Dakota State at home.  But, as basketball fans know, conference play changes everything.

The Rebs will have the advantage to start off their conference schedule at the Thomas and Mack Wednesday night.  Despite some lack luster crowds this season at home, will UNLV fans pack in for the Rebels' home opener in what many believe could end up to become their most fruitful conference record since the Kruger era.

UNLV could very well win the conference championship in 2016.  It all starts with a victory against the Bulldogs Wednesday, something that the Rebels should be able to handle (even though the Bulldogs will make them earn it).

Prediction: UNLV 79, Fresno 70